The Wallawwa

Sri Lanka

Although located a 15-minute hop from Colombo Airport, this historic manor house-turned-18-room boutique hotel feels as far removed from an airport hotel as you can possibly get. Luscious tropical gardens, a hidden-away swimming pool, large rooms, good food and a fab little spa warmly await the travel weary.

Location

9 / 10

With Colombo's international airport a 15-minute drive away the hotel's totally tranquil rural setting is a welcome surprise. Closest town Negombo, a well-developed tourist centre with a long golden beach, is nine miles (15 kilometres) away while capital city Colombo is around 40-60 minutes' drive depending on traffic. Most come here to relax pre- or post-flight, or both, and staying a couple of nights is ideal for anyone keen to explore the local area.

Style & character

9 / 10

The hotel is carved out of an early 20th-century manor house, and was used as a base by Lord Mountbatten and his troops during World War Two. The elegantly pillared house was extensively yet sympathetically renovated so it still looks and feels like a traditional governor's abode. The public areas form the main house while inconspicuous new wings to the rear and side house the 18 contemporary-styled guestrooms. The impeccable 200-year-old gardens, home to vivid birdlife, mature trees and luscious plants add to the hotel's tranquility.

Service & facilities

8 / 10

A consistently good standard of service is the norm here, and the approachable guest relations team tailor trips to local sights, or to Colombo. There's a serene spa with flexible opening hours so you could indulge in a treatment after dinner if sufficient notice is given. The gardens secret many spots for relaxing post-flight, and the setting of the pool feels more like a rainforest than a garden, and brilliantly hidden beneath mature trees. There's also a croquet lawn, a library with traditional games and a chic boutique that supports local charities.

  • Bar
  • Laundry
  • Parking
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Spa
  • Wi-Fi

Rooms

8 / 10

Rooms combine contemporary styling with retro pieces and even the smallest entry-category rooms access a garden terrace for sitting out. Ideal for solo or budget travellers (or those with unsociable flight times), these Wallawwa bedrooms have four-poster double (or twin) beds with muslin drapes, writing desks, televisions and terrazzo-lined wet rooms with strong rainshowers. Garden suites are much roomier and their sofa window seats double up as extra beds. Those nearest the front desk have significantly larger and more private garden courtyards. Family suites combine a Garden suite and a small twin bedroom (with its own en-suite). 

Food & drink

8 / 10

The Wallawwa has a standout regional restaurant whose menu focuses on international and Asian dishes fused with local ingredients or flavours. Food is consistently good and the chefs have free access to the hotel's extensive kitchen garden to pluck homegrown fruits, vegetables and spices. Try their crispy egg hoppers at breakfast, which come with spicy sides such as katta sambol (onion, tomato and chilli). Main meals include seared barramundi, grilled Negombo prawns and crab bisque, and a traditional rice and curry is offered in a few forms for lunch and dinner. The black pork curry and the cashew nut curry are two of their best. There's a full bar, and chilled post-croquet G&Ts are best enjoyed on the double loungers in the garden.

Value for money

9 / 10

Double rooms from $195 (£153) in low season; and from $371 (£291) in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.

Access for guests with disabilities?

The interior of the hotel is wheelchair accessible and suite bathrooms are roomy.

Family-friendly?

Yes. Family suites sleep up to five, there are cots and extra beds and a well-conceived children's menu.

Rooms from £ 240
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com